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Should You Apply Sunscreen Before or After Moisturizer?

Updated: Dec 12, 2019

By now, everyone should know that sunscreen is arguably the most important part of any skincare routine. However, the common question you may have asked yourself: Does sunscreen go on before or after your daily moisturizer?

You could splash hundreds of bucks on sunscreen, but if you don’t apply them in the right order, you are not going to reap the benefits.

Some dermatologists will tell people to put sunscreen before moisturizer and some will tell them to put it on after.

So what is essentially the correct or recommended way?

What do the professionals say?

Articles online have different opinions but from what we see, most dermatologists and brands are leaning towards the rule of applying sunscreen after moisturizer.

Board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Shari Sperling said, "SPF is the last thing that goes on during your skincare routine.”


First, she recommends applying any topical medications or prescriptions, then moving to your serums and moisturizers. Finally, your sunscreen (which Dr. Sperling says should have an SPF 30 or higher), seals the deal as the very last step in your skincare routine, as it acts as a shield from the sun.


La Roche-Posay UK recommends to apply after moisturising and before makeup. Apply at least 20 minutes before heading out to give it time to absorb into the skin so it really works as a protective layer.

Kiehl’s says that sun cream application should be the final step in your facial skin care routine. If you are using makeup on top, wait at least five minutes for the sunscreen to set.

The Huda Beauty team believes in the same – applying SPF after your moisturizer. Dr. Friedmann from London Dermatology Clinic appreciates that “a lot of foundations, moisturizers, and primers contain at least SPF15, which is probably enough protection during the winter months”.


However, in the summer, always accompany your cake face with a high SPF sunscreen. SPF works as a protective barrier, so you should always apply it after your moisturizer.



Sunscreen should be the last step of your routine

A simple rule of thumb is that you want to put it on as close to the end of your beauty routine as possible ― on top of any medicated treatments, antioxidant serums and moisturizer.

Sunscreens contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which can be a little bit drying. So, if you add your moisturizer first, you won’t be left with sticky or gritty residue.


Does a moisturizer with SPF double up as sunscreen?

However, there are also moisturizers that come with SPF. But how effective are they?

Experts have said that SPF in moisturisers does not fully protect the skin from sun.

Although it may say SPF 15 or 30 on the label, the amount you put on your face will not be enough to get that much coverage, and it will be diluted out by the moisturizer. So, you will only have an SPF 10 to 12 in effect on your skin.

The best way to apply is to put on moisturizer first, then apply an SPF 30 or more each morning at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure. That way, you will have the full benefit from the sunscreen.



Moisturizer and sunscreen shouldn’t be combined

While experts all recommend using both a moisturizer and a separate sunscreen, the reasoning comes from more than just the products' ability to penetrate your skin. Instead, it is about the sunscreen's ability to fully live up to its SPF number, as mixing it with other ingredients dilutes the formula.


That, and the fact that you are technically supposed to continually apply sunscreen throughout the day (which you may not want to do with your moisturizer, based on your skin type or the product's price).



AIRA WHITE Sun Spray has a raw SPF of 84.52


Key ingredients Pomegranate Extract and Opuntia Coccinellifera Flower Extract are great sources of antioxidants and they also deliver replenishing and hydrating benefits to skin. Another key ingredient, Centella asiatica extract is an effective ingredient not only in antiaging cosmetics but also for improving skin hydration. That being said, the formulation has a raw SPF of 84.52, hence despite the dilution, it is still able to deliver SPF 50 and PA+++.


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*Results from Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 2010; Online, 1-6 Glutathione as an oral whitening agent
This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

Everyone's skin is different and results may vary from person to person. For maximum results, we recommend you to follow our recommended intake and apply topical sun protection.

©2019 Dr. Ora